Sport

Omar Holness signs with USL's Bethlehem Steel

Friday, January 12, 2018

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Twenty-three-year-old Jamaican midfielder Omar Holness has signed with Philadelphia Union B team, Bethlehem Steel FC, in the United Soccer League (USL).

A first-round draft by Real Salt Lake, Holness' move is pending league and federation approval.

Bethlehem Steel FC head coach Brendan Burke said “we were really excited about the opportunity to approach Omar given his experience in the MLS”.

“He knows what it takes and what the daily demands are as a professional soccer player and I expect him to a veteran leader for us as a 23-year-old.

“We think that he has what it takes to translate to MLS and we want to provide him the platform to make that jump here at Steel FC,” Burke was quoted as saying.

Holness, who plays both attacking and central midfield, officially joined the club last Tuesday.

Last year he played for Real Salt Lake USL affiliate, Real Monarchs.

A six-footer, he has not played since June 2017. He last scored on June 3 in a losing cause for Real Salt Lake, who were beaten 6-2 in a MLS match on that date at the Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.

During his time with the Tar Heels, he tallied five goals and contributed 11 assists as he helped the school in three-consecutive NCAA tournament appearances.

Holness earned All-ACC first team honours in his sophomore season, scoring twice and adding seven assists in 22 starts and he followed up with a conference second-team honor in his final season at North Carolina. Holness also spent time in 2015 playing for the Sounders FC U23 of the Premier Development League where he had a goal and played 585 minutes.

Holness, who represented Jamaica at the youth levels, represented Jamaica club Real Mona in 2012-13 season.

He has four caps for Jamaica senior team and made his debut for the Reggae Boyz on September 9, 2014 in a 3-1 loss to Canada.

A 2016 member of Generation Adidas, Holness prepped at the University of North Carolina for three seasons where he appeared in 59 matches and earned 55 starts.

Another Jamaican international Cory Burke had a two-year stint with Bethlehem Stell before this year moving up the senior ranks to MLS campaigners the Philadelphia Union.

Outstanding Jamaica goalkeeper Andre Blake also plays for Philadelphia.

— Paul Burrowes

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